THE borough council has stepped in to plug a gap which could have seen vulnerable people left without vital services.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has approved spending £137,000 per year up to 2020/21 on social inclusion services in light of Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) decision to slash £1.8million from its budget.

In December last year, HCC completed a review of its social inclusion services and reduced funding in Test Valley, Winchester, Eastleigh and the New Forest by £595,614 (42 per cent).

In a report to TVBC’s cabinet last Wednesday, members were told if the borough did not step in there would be “identifiable gaps in local services for vulnerable people”.

Over the past year alone, the authority has reported a 44 per cent increase in footfall to is housing service and increasing levels of rough sleeping.

The services affected by HCC cuts include £10,000 of local outreach capacity, community support for families costing £80,000, and a £45,000 reduction of supported accommodation to move on from The Bridge, in Andover.

But TVBC cabinet members have backed a plan to continue much of the support cut by the county authority.

Of this, £55,000 will be targeted through Two Saints, which runs The Bridge, to maintain outreach capacity and supported housing to help people move on.

And TVBC will also spend £82,000 to introduce its own resettlement service for families and single people who are homeless and those who are at risk of homelessness, with a focus on temporary accommodation.

‘Resettlement officers’ will also be employed as part of the scheme.

Members were told that funding for the services will come from the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant, awarded by government.A council spokesperson said: “As part of funding changes to the borough’s social inclusion services, Test Valley Borough Council has identified emerging opportunities to continue supporting our most vulnerable residents. As a result, the council is set to invest more than £130,000 in our housing service.

“Building on the authority’s innovative approaches, a new resettlement service will also be set up within the council’s housing and environmental health service. New officers will help to deliver a personal housing plan to those in need of temporary accommodation and ensure support is given quickly and in the right way.”

Within the report, it details that HCC will continue to provide a “very limited” outreach service provision for Dene Court, supported move-on provision at Stubbs and Turin Court, along with limited community support for single people with complex needs only.